How To Recover Deleted Messages on the iPhone
Let’s face it, most people are sending and receiving a ton of text messages or iMessages each and every day. Whether it is talking with friends, families, or coworkers, most of us have a graveyard of old text messages just sitting there. After we send these (or read our received ones once), we rarely even look at these messages again.
After a while, most of us may clean our messages and remove them from our phones. Not only can this clean up the Messages menu of your phone and make it less crowded, but it can also save a bit of storage on your phone as these long conversations can use up quite a bit.
However, what if you realized that you actually needed to see or refer to an old message after you have already deleted it? Whether there were some links in the message that are important, or some photos you didn’t save, or any number of other things, you may think you are out of luck.
When you move to delete a message or conversation on your iPhone, it is not actually deleted right then and there (similar to how your pictures aren’t completely deleted right away). Instead, your messages are just marked for deletion, which still makes them inaccessible and invisible to us. They still exist on our phones for a short time until the files are eventually overwritten or removed permanently. Now that you know a bit more about what happens when you delete a message, let’s look at the ways to get them back
How to Recover Texts on an iPhone
Your ability to recover any deleted messages is heavily dependent on a few factors. From the timeframe that you deleted them to the backups that you’ve performed in the past it may or may not be possible to recover those messages or any of their content.
Recover Messages From an iCloud Backup
One of the first things to try is to recover your messages from an iCloud backup. The only drawback to this is that you’ll need to factory reset your device then restore it.
To avoid losing any other important data on your phone, first check to make sure that your messages are backing up to the iCloud. Here’s how:
- Go to Settings on your iPhone and tap on your name at the top.
- Next, tap on iCloud.
- Check that the toggle switch next to ‘Messages’ is on.
If your messages have been saved in a recent backup you will see the amount in Gigabytes under the ‘Manage Storage’ option.
After you’ve verified that your messages are saved in the Cloud, you can proceed to resetting your device. Here’s how:
- Open the Settings on your iPhone and tap on ‘General.’
- Scroll down and tap on ‘Reset.’
- Tap ‘Erase all content and settings.’
After your phone is erased it will power down, then power up again. Follow the prompts and connect it to WiFi. Select the option to ‘Restore from iCloud Backup.’
You will then need to sign in with your Apple ID and password.
Disclaimer: Before performing a factory reset ensure that your data is backed up to prevent losing any more important information. Also, verify that you can log into your Apple account to avoid being locked out.
Check Your Messages in iCloud
Some companies and mobile phone operators will keep a backup of your messages, and others will not. Either way, it is worth a try if the things you are trying to recover are really that important.
Step 1: Go to icloud.com and enter your login information. Make sure you have your phone with you as it may send a verification code to your phone that you will need to type in before you can log in.
Step 2: Click on the Text Messages icon (if you do not see that icon, then your phone operator doesn’t backup messages on iCloud, and you can move on to the next method).
Step 3: If you see the icon, use the search function to find the message or multiple messages that you are looking for.
Step 4: Go to the iCloud Settings on your phone now and turn off Text Messages (once you do, a pop-up will come and you should select “Keep on my iPhone”).
Step 5: After that, turn Text Messages back on and hit “Merge”, after a little while, your previously deleted messages should be back on your device.
Recover Messages From an iTunes Backup
If your operator doesn’t support messages backup or it didn’t work for you for one reason or another, this is the next method you should try. Again though, this may only work if your messages are backed up. If you have no backup, this obviously won’t work. This basically works in the same way you would restore any lost data from an iTunes backup.
Step 1: Connect your phone to your computer and either wait for iTunes to pop up or manually bring the program up yourself.
Step 2: You will see your phone in the box in the bar near the top of iTunes, and if you click on it, it will take you to your phones information page.
Step 3: From here, simply select Restore Backup and it should take your phone back to how it was when you last backed it up.
Use a Third-Party App to Get Your Messages Back
If neither of these methods worked for one reason or another, you will likely have to rely on a third-party app to try and save your deleted messages. There are many different apps out there that claim to be able to recover your lost data, but the fact is, some of them are pretty terrible and don’t work.
It is a good idea to refer to online reviews for the various different options in this space until you find one that works for you. A number of these also might cost you a few dollars, so make sure you do your research and use the one you deem most trustworthy. Even if the apps are trustworthy and work for most, that is no guarantee they will work for you.
If you give these methods a try, hopefully at least one of them will be helpful in saving your deleted messages. If not, there is really nothing more you can do except use it as a lesson to closely examine messages on your phone before deleting them. Personally, I always save or screenshot everything important that comes to me in a text or an iMessage, as I have a tendency to delete messages every few weeks or so. This has helped me not lose anything important, without having to save hundreds or thousands of messages with the fear that you may need to refer to them later on in life.
Check Your Other Apple Devices
If all of your messages disappeared from one device they may still be available on another one. Check any macOS devices, tablets, or other phones for your missing messages.
Thanks to Apple’s phenomenal integration setup, your missing messages may be on another device. Even an older one. If they are there simply do a backup to iCloud or iTunes so that you can recover them at a later date.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I get my texts from my cell phone carrier?
In most cases no, and there’s good reason for that. Although your carrier probably does store your messages on a server somewhere just in case they’re ever needed for law enforcement, most employees won’t have access to them. Your texts are your private messages and therefore it isn’t likely that someone would be able to access them, even someone who works for a cell phone carrier.
Based on experience there isn’t even an option in the employee’s system to review text messages let alone send them to you. However, in some cases it may be possible for you to obtain your text messages through a subpoena and court hearing.
Are deleted messages gone permanently?
In most cases yes. If you delete your messages and there is no backup then your messages are certainly gone for casual everyday users. But, in some situations they may be recovered by law enforcement or another agency.